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Project Plan
These days, in the competitive world of web design, we find having some kind of project management plan helps.

We currently use our own in-house software, which has been designed to reflect our own needs. We use this software for planning and delivering the projects to our client’s. Not only that, we use it to make sure everything happens on time and on budget. We try and make sure our client’s are happy.

We try and define, and agree with our client, exactly what the project is — and what it isn't. We always ask key questions before we even think of firing up Dreamweaver. This will help us to build a clear picture of the project and could spare us some headaches later.

These questions may include:

When does it need to be done by?
What do you need it to do?
Who is it aimed at?
How much should it cost?

'Visioning' the project means getting a clear picture of what's expected of us and whether these expectations are realistic. If our client wants a 200-page, multilingual corporate website with a social networking element, linked to a secure payment gateway — and wants it done by next Friday, for 100 pounds — you'll know the vision is unrealistic from the off and you'll need to negotiate. When we work with our clients we try to a agree an achievable project vision, write it all down and get your client to sign up to it.

We like to create a 'project plan' that defines individual tasks, timescales and responsibilities. We always try and refer back to our project notes. If we agreed to deliver an eCommerce site in a month, then using two designers to spend three weeks designing the tabs on the main nav probably isn't wise. It’s best to split the plan into three phases: design, production and testing. Once we our happy with the plan, and our client is happy too, we get them to agree to it. Collect a list of risks at the beginning of the project. Like what happens when something goes wrong and what actions we can take to avoid these risks. At Virtual Web Designs, we like to hold regular meetings to review the progress, looking at where we are against the project plans, any new risks or problems and what needs to happen to keep us on track. This disciplined approach keeps us focused on the project and enables us to make any adjustments to our plan as we go, to keep it realistic and achievable. You must work closely with your client, making sure that they're happy with the way everything's going. We provide our clients with weekly updates on there projects. We use our own project management software. The client will automatically get an email when the plan is updated. This way the client can see every step of there project online in real time.

Letting our clients know where you are against the plan, presenting the work we've done since the last update and — importantly — letting them know what we need from them in the coming week.

Think of the client as another member of the project team, as vital to the success of the project as the designer or developer. Without co-operation from your client, you won't get far. If the client starts to change their mind during the project, it's wise to have a process for handling any changes to your project plan.
Webnetics UK Ltd.

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